IE9 bucks Microsoft browser trends

In March, StatCounter reported Chrome was the world's number-one browser for a day and also noted that IE's decline continued, but the company has today announced new figures that showcase a different take on browser trends. StatCounter's reversal in fortunes were based on weekend traffic, where Chrome spikes, the argument being this was happening when users were no longer 'forced' to use Internet Explorer at work. But according to the new figures, IE9 is also performing strongly at the weekend, despite overall Internet Explorer usage dipping.

StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen said: "We have previously noted that Google's Chrome peaks at the weekend at the expense of IE. This seems to suggest that many home (as opposed to business) users prefer Chrome to IE. However, having drilled down further into our data, we have released a new statistic which allows the comparison of Chrome (all versions combined) with the individual versions of other browsers. This shows that while IE6, 7 and 8 usage falls off at the weekend, IE9 spikes. This indicates that IE9 is bucking the trend of previous IE versions and is gaining home user traction."

Developer, standards advocate and co-creator of Perch, the 'really little content management system' Drew McLellan, told .net this gradual shift is in part down to home users not being limited regarding upgrades. "Modern versions of Windows are good at prompting users to update software, and home users have little reason not to do so when prompted. Unlike the corporate environment, private users don't have an IT dept managing their software," he said.

Winning the web standards war

In terms of the experience for a home user choosing to run IE, McLellan argued things have massively changed during the past decade. "For a long time, running Windows with its default browser was not only a poor experience from a CSS standpoint, but was a security liability. So much so that in 2004, a bunch of us at The Web Standards Project put together the site (now run by the WordPress team) to persuade regular users to shift away from IE, primarily on security grounds. Our aim was to improve the web browsing experience by first making it more secure, and secondarily offering a better rendering engine and capabilities," he said.

"Thankfully, since the dark days of IE6, Microsoft has got much better at both building a good browser and also making sure that users are kept up-to-date with both security and functionality. We have Windows test environments at for development purposes, and it's becoming a challenge to prevent them from auto-updating themselves, which is a pain for us, but brilliant for home users!"

Such changes also mean McLellan is no longer keen to convince people to ditch Microsoft's browser, a stance shared by many others in the industry, perhaps resulting in the browser's usage levelling out: "There was a time when you were doing someone a favour by getting them to switch from IE to a better browser. I honestly don't think that's the case any more. IE9 is a good browser, and IE10 will be better still, and I'd struggle to find a good reason why most users would need to switch to something else if they're happy with what IE provides."

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